Reimagining Solidarity: How can we move beyond the “aid” narrative? Series of webinars and online survey, October to November 2021


With growing consensus on the need to decolonize the language of so called ‘international development’, the “Track Changing Initiative, a working group of the Kampala Initiative, is conducting a consultation on language, and specifically on alternative names for ‘aid’. We hope to find a more appropriate term or terms to describe the financial relationship between the Global North and South which we can adopt.

Online survey “Reimagining solidarity: Time to rename ‘aid'”

Language used in the so-called ‘international development’ sector often presents citizens of the Global North as the generous saviours of the Global South. In so doing it masks both historic injustices and current exploitations of power. None more so than the term ‘aid’ which undermines solidarity and distracts us from the real causes of global inequality. With growing consensus on the need to decolonize the language of so called ‘international development’, members of the Kampala Initiative [https://www.medicusmundi.org/kampalainitiative/] are conducting a consultation on alternative names for the financial resources predominantly transferred from rich countries to poorer ones, commonly known as ‘aid’. We aim to find a new term or terms to be adopted by our member organisations. The successful term(s) will reject the current damaging narrative and reflect the need to tackle the root causes of poverty as part of an equitable global movement for change.

As a key stakeholder in this we’d really value your inputs into our consultation which includes a webinar series, an online survey, and consultation with grassroots groups.

You can access the survey here.
Background information: here

Series of webinars

Nigeria: Time to Rename Aid? – 9 November 2021
Benin: Time to Rename Aid? – 16 November 2021
Uganda: Time to Rename Aid? – 23 November 2021 (new date)
Global: Time to Rename Aid? – 30 November 2021

The first three will profile speakers from Uganda, Nigeria and Benin. The final one will host speakers from across the global community. Join other independent and critical-thinking activists from both the Global South and North to discuss how to decolonize the language of ‘international development’.

Overview and registration for one or several webinars: here


Track Changing Initiative: Reclaiming the “aid narrative” and its power for the issue of social justice and global solidarity


The Track Changing Initiative (TCI) is a task group of the Kampala Initiative that was established during a civil society workshop on “How to advance cooperation and solidarity within and beyond aid” that took place in Kampala on 15-16 November 2019. The aim of this task group is to provide a critical and global civil society perspective on the “aid narrative”, and to look for more truthful alternatives grounded in social justice and global solidarity.

The “aid narrative” and the importance of finding an alternative

The current dominant story we are told about poor health and poverty is one of charity, aid and so-called “international development”. This story tells us that poverty and poor health can be overcome by generous donors in the “global north” simply giving to those in the “global south”.

But this narrative is untruthful and damaging – it acts as a smokescreen distracting us from demanding action on the real issues that create and maintain poor health; it undermines global solidarity by creating “otherness” and cementing colonially-rooted power relations in favour of the “global north”; and may also be linked with declining public support for development and global health related issues.

Social psychology and cognitive linguistics have shown us that how we communicate the issues we care about impacts how people think, feel and act on them. In other words, there is power in the language we use.

Studies such as this one really show how changing just one word in a sentence can make a difference to how people would address an issue.

We therefore believe that finding a more truthful way to communicate about poor health and poverty in the world is an important part of a strategy for transforming aid into an equitable means of ensuring health rights, and to build a future where health justice and equity are realised and aid is no longer a necessity.

We also believe that it is important to ensure that initiatives to move away from the traditional “aid narrative” incorporate the perspectives of communities most impacted by this language.

Track Changing Initiative

At a civil society workshop in Kampala, a group of civil society representatives came together to discuss, address and find alternatives to the “aid narrative”. We agreed that the aid narrative” deserved continued attention from activists around the world, bringing a global perspective on this issue, and so formed the Track Changing Initiative.

The aim of this task group is to provide, and engage others, in a critical global civil society perspective on the “aid narrative”, and to collectively look for more truthful alternatives grounded in social justice and global solidarity.

We aim to do this through the implementation of our work plan, which contributes to and compliments work Health Poverty Action is already carrying out in this area.

Core team

  • Akaninyene Obot, Nnamdi Azikiwe University & Ukana West 2 Community Based Health Initiative, Nigeria
  • Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay, People’s Health Movement, Canada
  • Danny Gotto, Innovations for Development, Kenya
  • Linda Shuro, People’s Health Movement, South Africa
  • Lizzy Igbine, Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association
  • Spéro Hector Ackey, People’s Health Movement, Benin (co-ordinator)
  • Hamimu Masoudi, Health Poverty Action, UK (co-ordinator)

Documents

The Track Changing Initiative (TCI) is a task group of the Kampala Initiative. We invite interested civil society to consider joining our group: If you have endorsed the Kampala Declaration and are able to contribute actively to this group’s work, please send an expression of interest to Hamimu Masudi h.masudi@healthpovertyaction.org with the following information:

  • Your name, country of residence/work and institutional affiliation
  • Your background interest in the TCI work plan
  • A statement on what you could contribute to our planned activities

Please note that we aim to ensure that there is equal regional representation within this group.